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'I have to be part of the solution': Zeneta Everhart discusses her campaign for Masten District Common Council

 Masten District Common Council candidate Zeneta Everhart at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and East Ferry Street
Thomas O'Neil-White
Masten District Common Council candidate Zeneta Everhart at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and East Ferry Street

Ask Zeneta Everhart why she is choosing to run for the Masten District Common Council seat and she will tell you honestly and directly.

“I love the hood,” she said of the district she grew up and still resides in. “I always have always will. People have their opinions about the east side of Buffalo, but for me, it's always been a place of just love and joy.”

Standing at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and East Ferry Street on a sunny and chilly day in March Everhart, the Erie County Democrat-endorsed candidate, described what she saw as she looked around:

“Well, home first of all,” she said. “I live a couple of streets back. This is my neighborhood, right? This is what I like to call black Mecca. Well why is that? Because it's the east side. It's where culture lives, right? It's where the people of the east side live and where they shop. And where they work, a lot of them. And it's beautiful.”

Everhart brings six years of experience working in Senator Tim Kennedy’s office.

“I'm six years working in government. That's extremely important,” she said. “Knowing about policy and the laws of our state. I worked for the state obviously, it's a little different, but not so much different. The state is trying to tackle same the same types of problems that we're trying to tackle here in the city of Buffalo.”

Thomas O'Neil-White

Everhart said there is a disconnect within the city that is impeding progress in certain neighborhoods.

“Everyone's working in silos,” she said. “There's so many resources out here. This is one of the reasons why, through the senator's office, I started the single moms club, single moms need access to a lot of things, right? But the things that they need access to they have to run around all over the place to get access to those resources. They have to go downtown, they got to pay $10 for parking, or they got to catch a bus or three or four buses to get down there. Why do people need to do all of that to get access to resources that are theirs? These are their resources. So we have to open up our government. We have to open it up and we have to bring it into the community, we have to make sure that people can walk around the corner from their home and get access to information on things that they need.”

Everhart’s enthusiasm for her district and her city is not hampered by the fact her son Zaire was a victim of the May 14th shooting at the Jefferson Avenue Tops markets.

Zaire is still recovering from his injuries and Everhart is inspired by his strength. This includes speaking before congress over the summer.

“It does carry me and when I spoke in front of Congress,” she said. “It was very important for me to make sure that Zaire was seen in that room.”

Everhart is running against former mayoral candidate India Walton who Everhart says she has known for years and doesn’t see her campaign as running against Walton, more like running for the people of the Masten District.

She does feel there needs to be more women in the Common Council.

“We need a woman on the council,” she said. “We need several women on the council. We need to start leading with a woman's voice. And I think that that's what's missing in our city, in our politics and government here in leadership. Period. A woman's voice shapes policy because it has an impact on jobs, job pay. It has an impact on daycare, education for our children. Those are things that are crucial to a woman, right? Our livelihoods are built around those things, our children and our lives, health care, things like that. We have to have more women involved in politics. We need our voices to be heard. And we have to be standing there with those men.”

In addition to Everhart and Walton running for Common Council, organizer Eve Shippens is running for the North District Common Council seat currently held by Joseph Golombek.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.